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The Peace Process

We often hear about something called the peace process. Nations or warring groups are encouraged to meet, to try to reconcile their differences and ultimately to forgive each other. This can be a long process.

Remember how many years it took for the factions in Northern Ireland to come to some form of agreement. But the peace process is necessary in our own lives too. Forgiveness and reconciliation concern us all and today’s gospel and first reading deal with this subject. Jesus asks us to forgive ‘seventy times seven,’ which means forgiveness must be without limit. The book of Ecclesiasticus makes it clear that we cannot expect forgiveness and mercy unless we also extend forgiveness to others who hurt us. Forgiveness is difficult but it makes great sense. By forgiving we rid ourselves of the burden of bitterness and resentment. We experience a sense of freedom and relief. Forgiveness also works wonders for the person who is forgiven. He or she is free to walk in friendship with God and with the person he or she has hurt. Being forgiving also clears the path for God to forgive us. The only obstacle we can put in the way of God’s forgiveness is our unwillingness to forgive the sins of others. Remember the Lord’s Prayer and its plea of “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”? Doing so is never easy and we continually need to ask for the intervention of God in the peace process.

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